This week’s parsha, Vayechi, opens with the story of Jacob in his last days. He summons his son, Joseph, the viceroy of Egypt, who promises to ensure his father’s burial in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Soon after, Jacob lies on his deathbed; Joseph comes to visit and brings his two sons to receive their grandfather’s final blessings. Placing his hands on their heads, the Patriarch obliges. “[Jacob] blessed Joseph, saying, ‘G-d before Whom walked my forefathers, Abraham and Isaac; G-d Who tended to me from the time I was born until today. May the angel who rescues me from all evil bless the children ... ’” (Genesis 48:15-16).
When does death occur? Is it when the brain ceases to function, or maybe when the heart fails to pump blood? While this question is important, consider this: Maybe life stops long before either of these two calamities. Long before the ambulance is called, someone could already be DOA.
In this week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, Jacob travels with his family back to the Land of Israel, away from his uncle Laban’s house, where he had worked as a shepherd for many years. After sending his family ahead, Jacob wanders alone:
I was once told that Heinz doesn’t make its money from the ketchup you use, but rather the ketchup you don’t use. Making sure you have enough so that you won’t have to worry is what drives the world’s economy — but is it heading to a place where you really want to go?
Mount Everest blindfolded, a three-minute mile, a Mars landing — they are all a piece of cake compared to raising emotionally healthy children.
Yet, going against conventional wisdom and everything you heard on Sesame Street, this week’s Torah portion drops the proverbial bomb about parenting: There is nothing quite like unhealthy environments to help raise healthy children.
There is an old joke about a little Jewish boy who comes home from public school proclaiming his newfound knowledge about three gods. Upon hearing the news, his father hollers in indignation, “There are not three gods. There is only one G-d, and we don’t believe in Him!”
In the end of last week’s Torah portion, we are left with a cliffhanger: How will the brothers, the sons of Israel, respond when Benjamin, their youngest brother, is suddenly seized on trumped-up charges? Will they abandon him?
One of the most fascinating television characters I grew up with was Mr. Spock, chief science officer of the Starship Enterprise. The product of a mixed marriage, a human mother and a Vulcan father, his Vulcan logical self struggles with his human emotional self. He once said, “Being split into two halves is no theory with me, doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half ... submerged, constantly at war with each other. I survive because my intelligence wins out over both and makes them live together.”
If you have had a conversation with me in the past 18 months, you know that I pretty much have a one-track mind. Yep, all I think about is Bitcoin and the technology that underlies it, the blockchain.
Just like email or a browser is an application that uses the Internet, Bitcoin is an application that uses a blockchain. And just like the Internet has spawned millions of apps, blockchains will (and are) spawning an entire new set of apps. Now, I realize that the concept of a blockchain is not easy to comprehend; on the surface, it represents a pretty significant paradigm shift. But it’s really not.
How would Sarai tell Avram’s story? Let us imagine that we have found Sarai’s diary:
During Yom Kippur services, we read about the rituals the High Priest performed in the Temple. After its destruction, the job of preparing for and conducting the Yom Kippur atonement service falls on us. Neither the Torah nor the Talmud instructs us exactly how to approach G-d, but in the Mussaf service on Rosh Hashanah we explicitly ask G-d to treat us “like children” to Him. We approach G-d similarly on Yom Kippur, the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance.
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